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Actress and singer Zendaya revealed she feared for her father’s safety while filming her first Spider-Man movie in 2016, around the time of the police shootings of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling.
Speaking to Black Lives Matter co-founder Patrisse Cullors for InStyle‘s September cover, the Euphoria star detailed how emotional she got over her father — who was with her while filming — doing everyday activities like running errands.
“I was extremely emotional, and I remember thinking about my dad, who was out picking up food at the time,” Zendaya recounted. “And I started worrying and calling him like, ‘Are you OK?’ I didn’t want him to go out and do anything.”
While the Marvel and Disney actress acknowledged that systemic racism in America is something her father is familiar with, she was still concerned for his safety. “My dad is a 65-year-old Black man,” she said. “He’s been on this planet a long time, so he knows what he knows. But I still had that fear, and that scared me.”
This is not the first time Zendaya, who will appear in Denis Villeneuve’s upcoming Dune remake, has talked about systemic racism and policing. She frequently posts about the Black Lives Matter movement on her social media. Most recently, that included Cullors taking over the star’s Instagram account on July 4 to discuss the movement and anti-racism with her millions of followers.
During the interview, the actress also discussed why she regularly speaks up for racial justice and how she has “always hesitated to use the word ‘activist” for herself. Describing it as a lifestyle that requires a level of daily devotion, she said she opts for other labels for her advocacy as a Hollywood actress who cares “about human beings.”
“I don’t pretend to be anything other than that,” Zendaya told InStyle. “If I don’t know something, then I ask people who are actually on the front lines doing the work. I’m up in the bleachers, not on the field. So I always think, ‘How can I cheer you on and be a part of something greater than myself?'”
As part of the magazine’s cover story, the 23-year-old singer and actress noted that part of how she uses her platform to elevate Black people and issues is through her style team. Led by her stylist Law Roach, Zendaya’s cover look featured clothing, jewelry, shoes, hair and makeup by Black artists.
“I’ve always had a Black stylist and Black hair and makeup artists. But we were able to work with two talented young Black photographers on this shoot too,” she said. “There are also so many Black designers people don’t know about, so having an opportunity where they can be in InStyle and get the love they deserve is really special.”
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